The executive director of the Farmville Downtown Partnership is stepping down Friday from her post to take a new position at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Helen Person has served as executive director of the Partnership since October of 2012 and beginning next week will be serving as a Community Revitalization Manager with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in Richmond.
“Helen energetically served Farmville Downtown Partnership for two and half years, guiding the partnership in its transition from a volunteer-based enterprise to a nationally and state accredited revitalization organization,” said John D. Miller, President of the Partnership. “The organizational growth and accomplishments we have seen over the past two years have a lot to do with her knowledge and skills.”
The Partnership’s first Executive Director, Person brought experience as a non-profit manager, journalist and historic preservationist in her native Georgia to Farmville.
During her first year, Person led the Partnership to its status as an accredited Main Street community. Along with the Partnership’s volunteers, she also supported a fundraising campaign that brought in over $50,000 in contributions, assisted with the free concerts of the summertime Main Street Music Series and helped with the first High Bridge Half-Marathon & 5K race in High Bridge State Park.
Additionally, Person oversaw the inception of Hometown Holidays and spearheaded a partnership with the Town of Farmville, Prince Edward County, and the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce. They worked together to develop the joint “Heart of Your Adventure” marketing campaign to benefit the greater Prince Edward County and Farmville area, including downtown’s Main Street District.
More recent achievements during Person’s tenure included the restoration of four historic Mesker iron storefronts along Main Street, the installation of the vibrant warehouse triptych mural next to the Farmville Farmers Market and a partnership resulting in the new LOVEworks sign installed on Main Street.
“Although the Downtown Partnership is driven by volunteers, these successes would not have been possible without the coordination and diligence of Helen,” said Miller.
Her successes and relationships will make leaving for her new position in Richmond bittersweet, said Person.
“Three years ago I was met here by a group of talented professionals who wanted to see their downtown become ‘better.’ We set to work and together have accomplished a lot,” Person explained. “I cannot thank the Partnership and the people of Farmville enough for the support they have provided to make my family and me feel welcomed and part of the community.”
“This new opportunity with DHCD will allow me to work with Farmville and other towns and cities all over Virginia to use economic development tools, as well as the Main Street methodology to revitalize their downtown economies,” Person said. “Knowing that I’ll
still have the opportunity to support Farmville is a real plus to this position.”
Miller said the Board of Directors has begun the process of forming a committee to conduct a national search for the next executive director: “Helen accomplished a lot, and we’re looking for another professional to continue that momentum.”
Person and her family will continue to reside in Farmville.